Robin Uthappa and Andre Russell struck belligerent half-centuries after veteran Brad Hogg's four-wicket haul to help Kolkata Knight Riders return to winning ways with a seven-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings in a thriling Indian Premier League match on Thursday.
Playing the formidable CSK for a second time in two days, KKR, who lost by two runs chasing 135 in the first-leg clash, had a stiffer target of 166 to chase at the Eden Gardens after skipper Gautam Gambhir won the toss and again opted to field.
Chasing the target, KKR found themselves in a familiar position as they were reduced to 57 for three. But last season's top rungetter Uthappa finally came good to
steer the chase with a 58-ball unbetean 80, his 14th IPL fifty and first this season. He struck seven boundaries and one six during his knock.
Uthappa found a perfect ally in West Indian Russell, who blasted 55 off 32 balls as the duo put together an unbeaten 112 runs for the fourth wicket to avenge their loss in Chennai.
By virtue of this win, KKR (8 points) moved past Royal Challengers Bangalore (7) to the third spot in the table, but CSK remained at top with 12 points.
But the defending champions started their chase in terrible fashion. On a day when it was required that their batsmen seize momentum given by Hogg's incisive 4/29 spell, their misery continued after skipper Gautam Gambhir (19), Manish Pandey (3) and Suryakumar Yadav's (2) early dismissals.
Debutant Ronit More took an impressive catch on the edge of the third-man boundary to dismiss Gambhir off Mohit Sharma.
As KKR went into a shell and with the asking rate going up, Dhoni smartly brought in his inexperienced duo of Pawan Negi and More, who did not disappoint either by dismissing Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav respectively.
But Uthappa and Russell ensured that the packed house did not return disappointed.
Uthappa brought the crowd back on their feet when he slammed Ashish Nehra over his head and followed it up with two fours in the 15th over in which the veteran India seamer leaked 15 runs.
Earlier, CSK got off to a breezy start, but kept losing regular wickets to be in trouble at 72/5 in the seventh over. Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja came to the rescue with a relatively sedate partnership. Negi hit some lusty blows at the end.